2014: Reflections

At the end of each year since 2011, I’ve written a reflective essay looking back at the previous 12 months and ahead to the coming year.
Read notes from 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016.

This has been a year of great love and great loss. Looking back, the year divides neatly into three chapters, each bringing vastly different things:

Chapter 1: Accountability

The beginning of this year was hard. As much growth and self-reflection as I’ve done in the past few years, I’ve also made mistakes. We don’t like to talk about those as much – it’s much nicer to gloss over those moments and focus on the steps we took in the right direction rather than the times we’ve either stumbled or crashed headlong into situations with poor judgment or reckless behaviour.

In the first few months of this year, I had to face the consequences of my mistakes, and it was painful and uncomfortable and disheartening in all the ways you might imagine. But, as with all things, it was also a lesson. I learned more about who I am, who I’m not, and who I want to be. I learned things about people I’d held close that left me unable to continue including them in my life. I learned that I have incredibly supportive and loving people around me, who truly know me and love me, a combination I’ve often feared can’t be achieved.

Chapter 2: Love

A few welcome distractions came in the middle months of this year. I was able to travel to Maine every few weeks with work, which was a blessing I can’t count enough: to spend so much time with the friends and family I try hard not to miss was an absolute joy. Thank you to all of you who hung out, made group dinners, went for swims or walks or camping trips with me, and for simply carving out time to spend with me. It means the world.

I also met someone new in those middle months who would help shape the rest of my year in ways I had no way to predict back then. To those of you who have watched me muddle my way through the wrong relationships, let me say: this time is different. The happiness I found in myself over the past few years takes on new dimensions when I’m with Jake, who shows me every day what love really is. Every morning when I remember in those first waking moments that he is in my life, a grin spreads across my face. This kind, generous, patient man both knows me, and loves me….! For the first time, I am finding out what it means to love and be loved in return, to be in a relationship where we are challenged and supported in equal measure as we grow together into the people we want to be. We’re both convinced we each got the better deal – and I’m pretty sure we’re both right.

Chapter 3: Jude

The last few months have been intense in both love and loss. As Jake and I grew closer, I was undeniably floating around on a cloud of euphoria. Then, at the beginning of December, I unexpectedly lost my godmother, bringing me back to earth with a shattering crash. Jude was the most open, honest and genuine person I’ve ever known. There was always light surrounding Jude – she didn’t know how to not approach each day with boundless love and affection. She taught all of us who knew her how to love better.

I’m so grateful to have had Jake by my side through these difficult weeks. I’m so glad he knew her, and that she knew him. Jude, not one to give her approval easily, had already told me a few weeks before she died that she really liked him, but after we lost her, something amazing happened. Family and friends who hadn’t met Jake yet were asking after him, telling me they’d heard from Jude that I’d found this wonderful man. The relationship was being given her blessing over and over again, a gift that can’t be measured. I miss you so much, Jude. I wish I could call you and tell you how happy we are, how much we loved our Christmas presents, how much I love you.

In an attempt not to dwell on my grief, I will end by looking (briefly) back, and then ahead. This time last year, I told myself to be open to love, even if it didn’t look or feel like previous experiences. I knew that learning to love myself was priority number one, and that I would only find love with another once I’d shown myself I was in fact worthy of it. And I am.

Gratitude

Throughout the year, I embarked on a project of daily gratitude, using social media to share with my friends and family something I was grateful for each day. The more I’m thankful, I’ve found, the more there is to be thankful for. I don’t think I would have handled the lows of this year – or been given the highs – if I wasn’t approaching each day with a thankful heart.  There are lots of these projects out there, from instagram hashtag campaigns to physical gratitude jars you can fill with notes each day – check them out or chat to me if you’re interested in exploring it yourself. I can highly recommend an attitude of gratitude.

As I look to 2015, I see a year that’s full of opportunity. It will be a year of buckling down and working hard for the things I want for myself and those I love. It might be hard at times, spending another year feeling uprooted and disjointed, but I know those feelings are only temporary. I’m excited to see the direction I’m heading in, and I’ve got an amazing partner who continues to inspire, support and push me.

I’m ready, 2015. Bring it on.

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